“Seems good sitting here and not eating hunter’s stew, doesn’t it?” said Townsend in his funny way. “I never realized how much I enjoyed not eating hunter’s stew. I shall always love hunter’s stew for the pleasure it has given me when I didn’t eat it. I suppose the Discoverer ought to be getting back pretty soon.”
“Unless those girls took him to Edgemere,” said Brownie.
“I don’t think they’d do that, they spoke well of Edgemere,” said Townsend.
“There’s no telling where he’ll drift to,” said Nuts.
“Please don’t talk about drifting,” said Townsend. “The way I feel about drifting I don’t ever want to look at a snow-drift. I can’t even listen to the drift of a person’s conversation. How about you, Joe?”
“De Discov’r’s all right,” said Joe, loyally.
“I wouldn’t say he’s all right,” said Townsend; “but when he’s wrong he’s at his best. That’s what I think, Joe.”
“He’s always at his best,” said Brownie.
“Except when he’s at his worst,” said Townsend, “and then he’s best of all. That’s logic, as he would say. I wonder what he’ll bring back with him. Let’s each guess; I guess a carpet sweeper. How about you, Joe?”
Joe only smiled, but did not venture a guess.
“I guess an alarm clock and a headlight from an automobile,” said Brownie.
“I guess part of a floor lamp—the shade part,” said Billy.
“I guess—I guess,” said Nuts; “let’s see—I guess some chicken wire, part of a typewriter machine and a megaphone.”
“You’re all wrong and I’m right as you usually are,” said Townsend; “he will bring back——”
“Let’s go in swimming,” said Brownie.
“Good idea,” said Townsend. “Joe, I’m going to teach you to swim.”
Now it was right then that Keekie Joe said something which surprised them all. And it was just that little remark which showed the effects of the week’s outing upon his simple mind. He had certainly not received any particular training or instruction; he had been in some measure a participant but mostly a bashful and amused witness of his companions’ adventures and a silent listener to their talk.
He had heard them all speak of their parents and of how this or that plan might be approved or disapproved at home. He had heard them discuss whether their parents would probably expect them home on Sunday night or early Monday morning. Perhaps it was not a sense of dutiful obedience, but rather a certain budding pride in the bosom of Keekie Joe, which caused him to make the remark which surprised them.
He would let them know that he too had a parent, though no one had thought to speak of his parents. If he could not have clothes like them at least he could have obligations like them. Perhaps the true spirit of obedience was not in him. But the point is that the poor little wretch had discovered a certain pride within himself and wished to boast of a restraint which a week previously he would have ignored. He too had someone who was interested in his goings and comings. So he said,